Phyllodes imperialis is not a new animals species, but the moth — the northern and southern subspecies in Australia going by the common names imperial fruit sucking moth or pink underwing moth, respectively — is worth taking a look at none the less given its stunning facial features while in its caterpillar stage.
The U.K.’s Daily Mail recently featured the caterpillar, which it calls the “skull” caterpillar, photographed by Lui Weber, which is listed as endangered by the Australian and New South Wales governments. Be sure to check out the Daily Mail’s full article for more pictures by Weber.
According to ButterflyHouse.com.au, the caterpillar, when it feels threatened, bends the front part of its body downward making it look like a large face, including eyes ringed in yellow and blue with a set of long white teeth in between. The website authors wrote this would “startle any potential avian, reptilian or mammalian predator,” but we think humans would find it startling too, regardless of the fact that the caterpillar at its largest is less than five inches long.
The ButterflyHouse stated that rainforest destruction, the moth’s habitat, is to blame for its endangered status. The Daily Mail reported officials saying the adults required darkness in the rain forest for successful breeding.